COVID-19: Our Response

The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma has taken numerous steps to respond to the evolving COVID-19 situation. "Our top priority is the health and safety of our guests, associates, vendors, entertainment partners and individuals in the communities in which we are located," states Chief Gary Batton.

"Choctaw has been closely monitoring the constantly evolving situation regarding COVID-19, and based on the latest information from local, state and federal health officials, we feel it is our responsibility to do what we can to help reduce the rapid spread of this disease." Given how quickly this situation is evolving, the Choctaw Nation will continue to provide updates on the website and via social media channels.

Re-Opening Information

Recovery Plan
Volume 1 - May 5, 2020

The health and safety of our associates, tribal members, visitors and guests is the top priority for Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (CNO). Following review of key health indicators with our health and emergency management professionals, CNO leadership determined to move into Phase III of the CNO Recovery Plan beginning Friday, June 12.

During Phase III, all CNO businesses and operations will begin to reopen. All reopened operations and associates will adhere to enhanced safety protocols and other guidelines that may be in place based on the location or job function.

Most Choctaw Nation businesses are closed, the majority of services and operations are conducted remotely (when possible), and the majority of associates are either off work (due to business closures) or working remotely. The only operations and associates that continue to work onsite are those designated as mission-critical. Examples of mission-critical functions include Travel Plazas, Country Markets, Public Safety, Health, etc.
Began May, 15, 2020
  • Medical Clinics (Atoka, Broken Bow, Durant, Hugo, Idabel, McAlester, Poteau and Stigler) resume with limited services
  • Talihina Hospital resumes with limited services
  • Wellness Centers – limited capacity
  • Chili's restaurants in Atoka and Poteau (targeting May 18 to resume limited capacity dine-in)

During this recovery phase, additional CNO operations may begin to reopen. All operations that have reopened and the involved CNO associates will adhere to enhanced safety protocols and other guidelines that may be in place based on the location.

During this recovery phase, all CNO operations will be reopened. It is possible that additional processes implemented throughout pandemic may be adopted as more permanent processes just as temporary guidelines established through Phase I Recovery and Phase II Recovery could be extended or rescinded.

Key Indicators for Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Recovery Phases

Below is a description of the key indicators CNO will use to monitor the health environment and ensure that the progression of phases, as outlined on the next page of the CNO Recovery Plan, is in the best interest of the Choctaw Nation. CNO's health and emergency management professionals have designated trigger points for each key indicator that CNO will use as a base standard to either move into a new phase or remain in the current phase. If the key indicators remain below the designated trigger points, the Recovery Plan will progress on the dates provided. If the key indicators exceed the designated trigger points, CNO will not move to the next phase as currently scheduled. The key indicators are based on hospital and ICU bed utilization in the 10.5 counties of CNO as well as the states of Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas (markets important to CNO).


Hospital Bed Utilization
This is measured by the number of hospital beds utilized for COVID-19 patients.
ICU Bed Utilization
This measure provides insight into how many ICU beds are utilized for COVID-19 patients.

Re-Openings, Closings, Postponements and Cancellations

As a public health precaution to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma has decided to make the following closings and postponements. Given how quickly this situation is evolving, the Choctaw Nation will continue to provide updates to this page.

  • Masks required at all Choctaw Nation Facilities
  • Child Care facilities began the first phase of reopening on May 18. Contact your local center for questions.
  • Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Administrative Offices have been re-opened
  • Choctaw Nation Health Services. Re-opened routine optometry & dental scheduling as usual
  • Early Head Start Expansion Center on Evergreen Street in Durant target date of Monday, June 22 to reopen.
  • Employee Health - Durant. Returned to normal hours Mon-Fri 7 a.m. - 6 p.m. on June 8.
  • Judicial Branch. All Choctaw Nation court proceedings are currently being held in person.
  • All Choctaw Casinos. Durant, Grant, Pocola, McAlester, Broken Bow, Idabel and Stringtown re-opened on June 1 with Safety and Reduced Risk Guidelines.
  • Roots Cafe. Roots is now open with limited hours and options.
  • The District. All venues and related events and activities re-opened on June 1.
  • Welcome Centers. Re-opened and operating as usual
  • Wellness Centers. Centers are open but hours of operation and capacity limits vary by location.
  • As a public health precaution to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma has decided to cancel all large group gatherings for the remainder of the year.
  • JOM Conference has been canceled
  • 2020 Princess Pageants have all been canceled
  • Futures Showcases Events for boys and girls basketball, baseball and softball has been canceled
  • Child Care Assistance Providers Conference scheduled for Sept. 26 has been canceled
  • Veteran Ceremony scheduled for Nov. 11 has been canceled
  • 2020 Pow Wow has been canceled
  • The Hospitality House. The Hospitality House in Talihina will be closed until further notice beginning at 5 p.m. on March 27.
  • CNO Headstarts. Each Headstart location will follow what the public schools are doing in their district. Please call local Headstart for re-opening date.
  • Community Centers. Community centers will be closed to the public, but will continue Senior Nutrition curbside meal service and have a field service representative available for tribal members each Wednesday.
  • Community Health Fairs. Several Health Fairs have been postponed.
  • Tribal Events. All tribal public events are canceled or postponed until further notice.
  • Talihina Youth Center. The center will be temporarily closed until further notice.
  • Food Distribution. Tribal members are asked to call ahead for curbside pick-up. Limit of two pick-ups per month. This is effective March 18. Contact numbers:
    • Antlers - (580) 298-6443
    • Broken Bow - (580) 584-2842
    • Durant - (580)924-7773
    • McAlester - (918) 420-5716
    • Poteau - (918) 649-0431
  • Tvshka Homma and Wheelock Museums. The Choctaw Nation museums are closing effective immediately and will remain closed until further notice.
  • Tribal Events. All tribal public events are canceled or postponed until further notice.
  • Community Health Fairs. Several Health Fairs have been postponed.
  • Wellness Centers. All events postponed until further notice.
  • Kick Up Your Heels. April 18 event has been postponed.
  • Herndon, VA Community Cultural Meeting has been postponed
  • Conscious Discipline has been postponed
  • CHR Fall Fest has been postponed

Choctaw Nation Health Services Authority: Coronavirus Response

The Choctaw Nation Health Service Authority (CNHSA) is enacting enhanced screening precautions at our facilities in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. With the precautionary measures described below, all our facilities are open for operations.

At the Choctaw Nation Health Care Center in Talihina, Oklahoma we are limiting entry to three access points: 1) Main Clinic Entrance near pharmacy, 2) Emergency Room and 3) Women's Health. At the access points, CNHSA staff will be greeting all patients and visitors to ask screening questions and provide guidance. To help limit the risk of exposure, especially for those at higher risk, patient visitors are limited to one person per day. Visitors must be over the age of 16.

Many CNHSA clinics are also limiting access points. Signs will be placed directing patients at each facility. We are also asking patients seeking care without an appointment to call ahead for guidance before visiting a facility.

We are asking that, whenever possible, medication refills be ordered through the Choctaw Nation Refill Center to be mailed to your residence. The refill center phone number is 866-367-4084. If you are out of refills, please contact your provider about the possibility of extending your current prescription.

These measures will help us protect patients and care providers; we appreciate your cooperation. If you have a question about your medical care, please call 800-349-7026.

If you have a question about coronavirus (COVID-19), including testing criteria, there are call centers available. The CNHSA coronavirus call center can be reached Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. by calling 866-536-2766.

The Oklahoma State Dept of Health coronavirus (COVID-19) call center is available Monday - Friday: 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Saturday: 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. by calling 877-215-8336.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) information line is now open 24 hours a day / 7 days a week for questions related to coronavirus (COVID-19) by calling 800-232-4636.

We will continue to monitor developments related to this issue and communicate updates with you as needed.

Latest Updates

  • May 18 - Released COVID-19 Special Report Q&A video on social media.
  • May 12 - Released COVID-19 Special Report Q&A video on social media.
  • April 28 - Released COVID-19 Special Report Q&A video on social media.
  • April 22 - Chief's office, along with other leadership, released a Yakoke to the Frontline video on social media.
  • April 21 - Announced an extension of pay and benefits to all Choctaw Nation associates through May 16.
  • April 21 - Released COVID-19 Special Report Q&A video on social media.
  • April 14 - Released a COVID-19 Special Report Q&A video with Executive Officer of Member Services, Stacy Shepherd, to answer questions regarding available services.
  • April 9 - Announced an extension of pay and benefits to all Choctaw Nation associates through May 2.
  • April 8 - Released a COVID-19 Special Report, thanking and recognizing Choctaw Nation Associates.
  • April 7 - Released COVID-19 Special Report Q&A video with the Office of Emergency Management on social media.
  • March 31 - Released a special report Q&A video with Dr. Jason Hill.
  • March 27 - Sent mass email to all associates notifying them CNO will extend pay and benefits to all employees until April 18.
  • March 26 - Began releasing daily COVID-19 updates on the official Chief Gary Batton Facebook page.
  • March 25 - Chief Batton and Assistant Chief Jack Austin Jr released a COVID-19 special alert video on social media.
  • March 24 - Chief Batton released a COVID-19 special alert video on social media.
  • March 23 - Chief Batton announced all personnel not identified as mission-critical were required to work from home effective March 24. Mission-critical on-site personnel are still required to report to work locations. Healthcare, public safety and associates required to support operations at Choctaw Nation Travel Plazas, Country Markets and Chili's are considered mission-critical on-site personnel.
  • March 23 - Chief Batton announced Choctaw Nation will be closing its administrative offices and community centers to the public on March 24 and encouraging tribal members to contact Member Services departments via phone, email or other distance communication methods. Healthcare, Emergency Services, Food Distribution, LIHEAP and other critical member services will be prioritized. Tribal members may expect interruptions and delays to some tribal services during this time.
  • March 18 - As a public health precaution to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, senior leadership requested that all executive directors begin to initiate work-from-home orders for associates who can work efficiently at home effective immediately through April 6.
    • Associates who are at high risk of developing serious illness from COVID-19 were encouraged to work from home.
    • Social distancing for associates in the workplace was encouraged and implemented. For example, meetings of less than 10 people, utilizing conference calls and alternate work schedules were put into effect.
  • March 16-17 - Temporarily suspended all Choctaw Casinos & Resorts operations effective at 11:59 p.m. on March 16, 2020, until further notice, and all Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma public events and large gatherings until further notice.
    • Please check the casino events page for the latest event news and rescheduled dates for Choctaw Casinos & Resorts.
    • Please check for Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma facility closings and event cancellations and rescheduled dates.
  • March 13 - Provided a video update covering precautionary actions regarding COVID-19.
  • March 12 - Travel restrictions activated via mass email to all CNO associates.

Due to the evolving threat of the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). The Choctaw Nation Health Service Authority (CNHSA) maintains a constant state of readiness for a highly infectious/contagious patient.

  • April 17 - Tribal members were encouraged to contact their local health clinic before arriving for an appointment. Virtual medical visits are also available to those who are eligible.
  • March 27 - The Hospitality House in Talihina will be closed until further notice.
  • March 24 - Due to the increasing risk of exposure to COVID-19, Choctaw Nation Health Services has adopted a no visitor policy.
    Effective immediately:
    • Guests will not be allowed to accompany patients unless they contribute to the care of the patient. (One parent with a minor child, an assistive person with handicapped patients, interpreter for communication needs, healthcare proxy, etc.)
    • One parent or guardian will be allowed to accompany and stay with pediatric patients.
    • One person will be allowed to accompany and stay with labor and delivery, surgical and end of life patients.
    • For inpatient visitors, there will be no in and out of patient rooms or the facility. Once there, they will stay in the room. Meals will be brought to them and accommodations will be made.
    • Designated waiting areas for the Medical/Surgical and Labor and Delivery wings are closed at this time.

    We regret that this has become necessary, but this policy is for the safety of our patients, visitors and staff and must be strictly enforced.

  • March 19 - CNHSA announced that beginning March 23, 2020 routine optometry and Dental appointments will be rescheduled. The announcement also included that CNHSA pharmacy locations are encouraging all patients to use pharmacy convenience options such as drive-thru, online refills, phone orders, mail delivery and the mycnhsa app.
  • March 17 - Wellness Centers. All Wellness Centers, including the fitness center located within the Diabetes Wellness Clinic will close at 5 p.m. on March 17. All events postponed until further notice.
  • March 16 - CNHSA released a coronavirus response update.
    • The Choctaw Nation Health Service Authority (CNHSA) enacted enhanced screening precautions at our facilities in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. With the precautionary measures described below, all our facilities are open for operations.
    • The Choctaw Nation Health Care Center in Talihina, limited entry to three access points: 1) Main Clinic Entrance near the pharmacy, 2) Emergency Room and 3) Women's Health. At the access points, CNHSA staff will be greeting all patients and visitors to ask screening questions and provide guidance. To help limit the risk of exposure, especially for those at higher risk, patient visitors are limited to one person per day. Visitors must be over the age of 16.
    • Suggested, whenever possible, medication refills be ordered through the Choctaw Nation Refill Center to be mailed to your residence. The refill center phone number is 866-367-4084. If you are out of refills, please contact your provider about the possibility of extending your current prescription.
  • March 9 - Due to a confirmed COVID-19 case in Oklahoma, the decision was made to move from asking if patients have traveled to high-risk areas at registration to inquiring about active fever and/or cough. Patients responding Yes will immediately receive a mask to wear, and be isolated in an appropriate isolation room. A detailed physical and history including detailed travel history and contact with known travelers to high-risk areas will be conducted by providers. All staff will do standard droplet precautions (or current CDC recommended equipment) prior to contact with suspected highly infectious/contagious COVID-19 patients. Providers or Infection Control Officer will contact the Oklahoma State Health Department Epidemiologist-on-call to arrange for collecting and transporting test samples to the CDC for testing.
    • Suspected COVID-19 patients will remain in isolation until test results are reported from the CDC. Patient treatment will be based on presenting or developed symptoms while awaiting test results. Once results are reported the assigned provider will base treatment on recommendations from the CDC.
  • March 17 – Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma announces changes to operations.
    • CNO Headstarts. Choctaw Nation will follow Oklahoma State Department of Education closures, which have closed Oklahoma public schools until April 6.
    • Food Distribution. Tribal members are asked to call ahead for curbside pick-up. Limit of two pick-ups per month. This is effective March 18.
      Contact numbers:
      Antlers - (580) 298-6443
      Broken Bow - (580) 584-2842
      Durant - (580)924-7773
      McAlester - (918) 420-5716
      Poteau - (918) 649-0431
    • Community Centers. Community centers will be closed for all public gatherings, but open to individuals that need services. Senior Nutrition will be curbside pick-up effective March 18.
    • Talihina Youth Center. The center will be temporarily closed until further notice.
  • March 17 – Choctaw Nation Housing Authority enacts health screening questions for contractors and tribal members prior to allowing entrance into tribal member homes.
  • March 16 – Senior Nutrition Program announced changes.
    • All Staff must take precautionary measures – If you are running fever and coughing, please stay home and seek medical care. If there is not a serious diagnosis and coughing only, make sure to wear a mask.
    • Limited trips – The only trips that will be taken, will be to pick up the commodities for the Seniors. Seniors will need to call Food Distribution to approve the driver to pick up their commodities. All wellness classes and other trips, such as chair volleyball, casino trips, any events, are canceled until further notice. We will monitor the situation closely and will not resume activities until it has been deemed safe to do so.
    • All meals will be carry-out.
    • Seniors who arrive at the center will pull up by the nearest door to the kitchen to pick up their meal. Staff will hand out meals as they drive through.
    • Staff must wear gloves, hairnets, and aprons while handing out the food.
    • Staff will use the sign-in sheet to mark off their names as they pick up meals. The dining room will be closed.
    • Drivers will deliver homebound meals and meals to the seniors that are normally transported.
    • For questions regarding Senior Meals, please call (918) 426-4125.
  • March 27 - Sent all associates a COVID-19 Associate/Facility Exposure Protocol memo, explaining requirements for associates working at a facility who may become exposed to COVID-19. This protocol establishes the requirements for cleaning and disinfecting a workplace that has experienced a confirmed case of COVID-19 and to consider other safety-sensitive areas of the workplace when an associate with a confirmed case of COVID-19 has worked at a Choctaw Nation-owned facility.
  • March 6 – OEM elevated Emergency Operations to a level 3. This is an Enhanced Watch status. Due to the increasing risk of the COVID 19 virus, we continue to monitor the status of the health issues.
    • Participates in weekly update calls with the CDC and Oklahoma Department of Health
  • April 14 - The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma storm shelters were closed until further notice, following the guidance set by the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management and National Weather Service.
  • April 6 - All Choctaw Country Market locations began offering curbside grocery pickup for senior and high-risk customers.
  • April 3 – The Choctaw Nation offered the Choctaw Casino parking garage's lower level as a location for drive-through COVID-19 testing. The Choctaw Nation partnered with the Bryan County Health Department, City of Durant, Bryan County Emergency Management, and other community partners to provide this service for one day.
  • April 2 – All three Choctaw Country Markets received shipments on April 2. Patrons will continue to be updated as shipments come in via the Choctaw Country Market Facebook page. To help protect the supply chain, stores have implemented temporary purchase limits on certain items.
  • March 25 – To enhance cleaning efforts, Travel Plaza gas pumps began being sanitized every 15 minutes with appropriate gloves and disinfectant.
  • March 21 – As a public health precaution to help prevent the spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma has taken preliminary safety precautions. Starting March 22, all Choctaw Travel Plaza locations are closed to guests overnight from 10 p.m.-5:30 p.m. Fuel is available for prepay 24/7 and our kitchens stop taking orders at 8 p.m.
  • March 18 – All stand-alone restaurant properties operated by the Choctaw Nation have implemented curbside/to-go only service.
    • Chili's. Chili's in Atoka and Poteau dine-in areas are closed but will be accepting to-go orders.
    • Chahta Grill. Chahta Grill in Talihina will be accepting to-go and call ahead orders through the drive-thru. The Chahta Grill's inside Travel Plaza and Choctaw Country Market locations will remain open to serve made-to-order and fresh hot box items to-go. The dining areas are currently closed in those locations. Visit choctawtravelplazas.com/locations for phone numbers of Travel Plazas to place call-in orders.
  • March 17 – The Choctaw nation announced several closures, cancellations and postponements in efforts to reduce the possible spread of coronavirus.
    • Wellness Centers. All Wellness Centers, including the fitness center located within the Diabetes Wellness Clinic will close at 5 p.m. on March 17. All events postponed until further notice.
    • CNO Headstarts. Choctaw Nation will follow Oklahoma State Department of Education closures, which have closed Oklahoma public schools until April 6.
    • Community Centers. Community centers will be closed for all public gatherings, but open to individuals that need services. Senior Nutrition will be curbside pick-up effective March 18.
    • Tribal Events. All tribal public events are canceled or postponed until further notice.
    • Talihina Youth Center. The center will be temporarily closed until further notice.
    • Roots Cafe. Roots is now closed to the public.
  • March 16 – As a public health precaution to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma decided to temporarily suspend all Choctaw Casinos & Resorts operations effective at 11:59 p.m. on March 16, 2020, until further notice. This includes casinos and travel plaza gaming locations, resorts and concert venues. Given how quickly this situation is evolving, the Choctaw Nation will continue to provide updates on the website and via social media channels.
  • March 13 – CNO cleaning chemical supplier recommended following normal cleaning protocols and confirmed CNO cleaning products at Casinos & Resorts, Health facilities and Government facilities align with the CDC's recommended cleaning protocols in response to COVID-19.
    • Our EVS Associates are cleaning and disinfecting high volume areas twice as often as before. This includes handrails, elevator buttons, door handles and restrooms.
    • Government facilities have hand sanitizer stations and additional stations have been added to high traffic areas.
  • March 2 – Facilities increased cleaning procedures in all government facilities (community centers, Headstarts, HQ, CNO offices) starting the week of March 2.
  • March 12 - Occupational Safety and Health Department provides coronavirus prevention computer-based training for all CNO associates
  • March 28 - Created the Choctaw Nation Emergency Resource Group on Facebook. This community resource group is dedicated to sharing information and assisting all individuals living within the Tribal Jurisdiction of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma in the event of a declared emergency.
  • March 16-17 – Notified media on Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma closures, event cancellation/postponement, and operational changes in response to COVID-19 situation.
  • March 13 – Provided CDC factsheet and FAQ on coronavirus to Risk Management - Occupational Safety and Health Department.
  • March 12 – Disseminated internal communication from Risk Management - Occupational Safety and Health Department with coronavirus prevention computer-based training for all CNO associates.
  • March 11 – Launched coronavirus website Coronavirus Updates from CDC with CDC resources.
  • March 9 – Disseminated internal communication with CDC resources (mass email and Intranet Coronavirus Prevention - What You Need to Know) to associates.
  • March 19 – The Choctaw Nation Judicial Branch issued an Emergency Order regarding COVID-19, to clarify the procedures to be followed in all Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma district courts, the Court of Appeals and the Constitutional Court and to encourage social distancing and to avoid risks to judges, court clerks, court employees and the public. The Constitutional Court hereby orders the following, effective immediately:
    1. The Courts will remain open. All district courts shall immediately cancel all jury terms for the next 30 days and release jurors from service. No jurors shall be summoned for the next 30 days without permission of the judge of the district court. All civil, criminal and juvenile jury trials shall be continued and reset by the judge of the district court.
    2. Subject only to constitutional limitations, all deadlines and procedures whether prescribed by statute, rule or order in any civil, juvenile or criminal case, shall be suspended for 30 days from the date of this order. This suspension also applies to appellate rules and procedures for the Constitutional Court, the Court of Criminal Appeals, and the Court of Civil Appeals.
    3. This court finds that the time period of any continuance entered through April 18, 2020, as a result of this Order shall be excluded under the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C. Section 3161(h)(7)(A), as the Court finds that the ends of justice served by taking this action outweigh the interest of the parties and the public in a speedy trial.
    4. In any civil case, the statute of limitations shall be extended for 30 days from the date of this order.
    5. Subject only to constitutional limitations, assigned judges should reschedule all non-jury trial settings, hearings, and pretrial settings. Emergency matters, arraignments, bond hearings, and required proceedings of any kind shall be handled on a case by case: basis by the assigned judge. Judges shall use remote participation to the extent possible by use of telephone conferencing, video conferencing or other means.
    6. The use of e-file at choctawnationcourt.com, fax, and U.S. mail; for acceptance of written materials is encouraged. If any party or counsel objects to a continuance of any matter, assigned judges are encouraged to hold hearings in the same manner as emergency matters.
    7. The following persons are prohibited from entering any courtroom, court clerk's office, judges' offices, jury room or other facility used by the district courts:
      1. Persons who have been diagnosed with or have direct contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19.
      2. Persons with symptoms such as fever, severe cough, or shortness of breath.
      3. Persons who have traveled to any country outside of the U.S. in the past 14 days, and those with whom they live or have had close contact.
      4. Persons who are quarantined or isolated by any doctor or who voluntarily quarantine.
      5. If you are in one of these categories (a-d) and are scheduled for a court appearance or are seeking emergency relief, contact your attorney, and if you have no attorney, call the court clerk's office.
    8. All courts must limit the number of persons who may enter any courtroom, judges' or clerk's office, jury room or any other facility used by the district courts.
    9. This order is subject to extension or modification as necessitated by this emergency.